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Zur Originalfassung: »Die Geschichte«

February 13, 2006

Antoine Monot, Jr.

Translated from the German by Elisabeth Carlson

The Story

For years I've told this story, the story of how we met. I've told it to anyone, those who wanted to hear it and those who didn't want to hear it. For four years. Six months and a few days.

It was on one of those lazy afternoons when I didn't know what to do with myself. I was bored, pure and simple. Hours and days when you ask yourself, what shall I do?

I had recently seen one of those commercials. The promise was that if I purchased a certain package of time and paid for it by credit card, I could use up that time by calling one of those 1-900 numbers without incurring the normally outrageous charges.

So I dialed that number, spoke to them and then had them connect me with one woman after another. Here an explanation for the uninitiated, very few of the 1-900 numbers are answered by actual call girls, no, these call centres are set up much more deviously. Men pay high fees and girls can register for free. A computer will connect the calls randomly. When you don't feel like talking to a person any longer, you just press Zero and the next woman comes on the line.

I talked, pressed Zero, talked, until I heard a voice I really liked. We carried on a lengthy conversation until suddenly a voice on that line told me I had only 60 seconds left before my prepayment was all used up.

I asked the woman, who was unaware of this interruption, to quickly give me her private number because the line would be disconnected within seconds. There was no time for explanations. Had we lost each other, there was no chance we would ever again randomly connect. She hesitated; the seconds slipped by. I knew if I insisted I would not get anywhere. But I also knew I would lose her if I did nothing. Time was almost up when she gave me her number. I wrote it down as she said it – right after she spoke the last digit, the line was interrupted. »Your deposit has been used up. If you would like to purchase a further time package, press One; if you would like to ...« etc.

To make a long story shorter, for five months we phoned. She called me, I called her. Daily. We understood each other, we always had things to talk about, it was wonderful. I sent her pictures of me, she sent me pictures of herself. I knew when I saw her pictures, she was the one. She knew, when she saw my pictures, I was definitely not the one.

I wanted to meet her. She kept stalling. There were only about 200 km between us. I did not give up but kept asking and begging. She thought I had a great voice and she really liked to talk to me, but the looks? I was just not her type. But then she thought, sometimes pictures don't tell the true story. Maybe I should meet with him, maybe then I'd know that he is the one, he and no other.

And so it went. We did meet. I drove to her place. Our agreement was that if we didn't get along, I would depart that same afternoon. If things worked out, I'd stay overnight. On the sofa, of course.

The day arrived. She came and I just knew, she was the one. Not only the content but also the packaging, all mine! And she knew: that's not him. The content is okay, the packaging – no way. At first we played it cool, we talked and laughed and got along splendidly.

Later the crunch. Dinner at her place with her best friend. This required close attention since this could very well turn into black ice. I must continue to woo her, but should not ignore the girl friend. Should I pay too much attention to the friend, the object of my affections could become restless. It was a real balancing act and, I am glad to say, successful. That evening I was even allowed to sleep in her bed. »But that's all, okay?« I agreed. I timidly asked her »may I cuddle with you?« She froze momentarily – oh God – but then she said »yes, why not?« We cuddled and I did not sleep for most of the night. In the morning over a cereal breakfast I admitted to her »I think I've fallen in love with you.« There was silence. She did talk about »not thinking about«, »not knowing if...«. I cried. She consoled me. I left.

When I arrived at home, all my friends had independently canceled their plans with me for the following weekend. By mid week I decided to grab the bull by the horns and told her that I wanted to visit again. She hesitated ... but then agreed. I arrived there and we talked and laughed and enjoyed each other's company. That night, I slept in her bed again, and nature took its course. Now I knew we belonged together. She thought, since he is here, why not?

I was in love. She was hoping for an adventure. It was the last time we saw each other before she went on a vacation to Mallorca with her best girlfriend. I did not hesitate, I knew she loved me, I sent faxes, drew pictures and was so happy to be with her that it actually happened: she began to love me, too, to feel something for me. When, two weeks later, she emptied her mail box at home, there it was... the reserved train ticket, sent via Express Post for her to join me.

She came. We've been together since that day. Together, we moved to another town, found a flat and got engaged.

This is the story I've told everyone who did or did not want to hear it over the last four and a half years. Now that we've broken up, I suddenly miss our story and all those comments to our tale, such as »That's almost impossible«, »Crazy«, »What a great story«, »Hard to believe«, »Really?« Now they are both gone, the woman and the story. How we want to hang on to memories and stories. How we want to tell them again and again until no one wants to hear them anymore.

Now it is over, all are relieved. I have told the tale for the last time. Now it is gone. The woman, the story, gone forever.

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